Wahnapitae First Nation lands manager shares expertise during Economic Development Opportunities Forum
When Anthony Laforge had his first dealings with a resource extraction company, it was a crash course in how not to do consultation. The company had submitted its closure plan for a graphite mining operation in the town of Kearney and, as the lands manager for neighbouring Magnetawan First Nation, it was Laforge’s job to review it.
The community was given 30 days to review the plan. But by the time Laforge saw it for the first time, it had already been sitting on the chief’s desk for five days, he recalled. That left Laforge just 24 days to give his assessment on a file that was essentially new for him.
“I was under the gun. I (didn’t) know what I’m doing, but you gotta review that,” recalled Laforge, a member of the Nipissing First Nation. “That’s part of the process.” That was more than two decades ago and, since then, the process has changed dramatically, thanks, in large part, to the introduction of Call to Action 92 resulting from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Laforge said.
Under that recommendation, corporate Canada is called upon to engage in meaningful consultation with Indigenous peoples, build respectful relationships, and get consent before proceeding with economic development projects, and to also provide Indigenous peoples with equitable access to jobs, training and education in the corporate sector.
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